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Till Debt Do Us Part – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
November 15, 2023 12:00 am

Till Debt Do Us Part – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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November 15, 2023 12:00 am

When people feel they must live beyond their means, debt destroys marriages and families. Our money is not a possession to squander but a trust fund to manage. In this message, Pastor Lutzer provides God’s perspective about money and ownership. We cannot let money and debt ruin our marriages.

This month’s special offer is available for a donation of any amount. Get yours at rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Society says getting in debt is normal. If your credit card isn't maxed out, what's wrong with you? As people feel they have to live beyond their means, debt is destroying all too many marriages and families. What's the answer?

Please stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, when our country's debt ceiling is being raised by Congress again and again to astronomical levels, why should we care if our own financial houses are not in order? Well, Dave, somewhere I picked up the line that says that dirt, devil, and debt are all related.

So in answer to your question, the reason that we should be very interested in our own finances is despite what the government does that a government can print money, but we can't. So we have to be very careful how we spend it, how we invest it for the glory of God. I'm holding in my hands a book written by Nancy DeMoss Walgamuth. I'm sure that you know about her and her ministry, and this is one of the last opportunities you're going to have to get this book before December 1st. It's a 31-day Advent devotional entitled The First Songs of Christmas.

What these devotionals will do as they look at the songs of Christmas, they will remind us not so much of what Christmas means to us, but your heart will be warmed as you think about the greatness, the glory, the beauty, and the generosity of God. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Take advantage of this offer. It'll prepare your heart for the Christmas season. My topic today is till debt do us part.

According to a Gallup poll, about 50% of all divorces happen because of money issues, usually because of debt. I am going to take the time to read two letters that came to me. You can look over my shoulder.

These came to me from different parts of the country. Several years ago, I left a very successful job to open my own business. Unfortunately, due to 9-11 and other reasons, my business failed after five years. I lost about $200,000, which was my family's saving. My wife has never forgiven me for being so irresponsible. I've lived with this guilt and shame for years, and the money we've lost is a constant issue in our marriage. I can't trust God to help me because I suspect I made these decisions without consulting him. Every day, I'm depressed over it. Do I just have to live the rest of my life reliving this failure? By the way, he's wrong.

Even though he made those decisions unwisely, God is still available to help him. Another letter. We've been married for 20 years. We have young children.

I'll summarize here. We fell into debt. I took a second job because I lost some of our money in what I thought was a solid investment. Even though we're making it financially, she wants out of the marriage because she feels that I've neglected her emotionally, which I have because I took a second job trying to make up the extra money that I lost. She spends hours on the internet and is corresponding with a man she dated before we were married.

She's helping him with his issues, but I think I know how this is going to end. I feel helpless to stop it. Till debt do us part. I have to begin by saying that young couples, before they are married and they say I do, they should solve the problems of their expectations regarding lifestyle, regarding money issues because it is huge and divides people and divides marriages. But what we have to do is to overcome three myths in our culture, three ideas that we live with, especially those of us who live in the great United States of America. The first is the great desire to live beyond our means, to live beyond our income, to act our wage, which most of us don't want to do. So young couples and others, they extend themselves.

Yeah, it's more house than we can really afford, but it'll work out somehow because we really like it. So we have to overcome that. We have to overcome the manipulation of the marketers. This past week, somebody gave me a book on marketing and now they're studying neurology to see what it is that makes us buy things. The whole idea of surveys doesn't work anymore because the experts say that what people say in surveys, they do not carry out.

Their behavior is different. I heard on the news that if you put on Facebook that you like Diet Coke, for example, the day will come when you'll walk into a store and on your phone will flash Diet Coke for sale at a certain amount of money. That's what it's coming to and we have to resist it. Now I have today seven principles that are foundational to this whole money thing. And because we don't have a lot of time, what I need to do is to summarize them, but each of them is worthy of an entire message. But I want you to listen carefully. I've been praying that this message will keep a couple from divorce, for example, a couple that is on the rocks, a couple that can't talk about money because it's one of those hot button issues that they avoid.

So without any more chitchat, let's get right into it immediately. Principle number one is this, that God owns everything. Now I am going to ask you to turn to 1 Timothy chapter six. I'm going to be quoting other verses, but this is the one I shall refer to a number of times in this message. 1 Timothy chapter six, Paul is talking about false teachers and he says that these false teachers, I'm in the last part of verse five, imagine that godliness is a means to gain. That's in a sermon in itself. The health and wealthers. Godliness is the means by which you get money, especially if you support their ministries.

Separate story. Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world. I'm going to stop there for just a moment. Whose was it before you were born? It belonged to God. The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it. Who is it after you die?

Whose will it be? It will be God's. You say, but in between times it is mine because I earned it by the sweat of my own brow.

Or as some husbands say, by the sweat of my own frown, we earned the money. Y'all have to think about that. Some of you, but the fact is the Bible says it is God who gives you the ability to get wealth, who woke you up in the morning, who gave you health and strength, who enabled you to find a job, who gave you the wisdom to earn the money that you did as you worked hard. It is God. Now let me explain to you why this is so important. What this means practically is that every financial decision is therefore a spiritual decision. You see, it's not like some people think, well, we give 10% to the ministry of missionaries in Moody church and then the rest is ours. We can do with it as we please. No, you can't because it belongs to God too.

Now you can use it for yourself. You can pay bills, you have to live, but all of our financial decisions, as Larry Burkett used to say, are at root spiritual decisions. So all of this comes under the umbrella of the sovereign control and watchful eye of God. That's lesson number one. Lesson number two is simply that we have to keep in mind that money makes all of the same promises as God, and therefore it competes with God in our lives. Now your Bibles are open to 1 Timothy 6. Notice in verse 6, now there is great gain in godliness. Actually verse 6, yes, there is great gain in godliness in contentment. And I'm going to actually skip now to verse 9. We'll be coming back to the other verses in just a moment about contentment. It says in verse 9, but those who desire to be rich fall into temptation.

I have to stop here for a moment. There's nothing wrong with bettering your living situation. There's nothing about ambition to be able to earn money if it's going to help your family and is going to free you up so that you can give money generously to other causes and people in need. The Bible does not condemn wise investments. Some people live in poverty perpetually when if they would think about it, they may have opportunity to better their situation. The Bible is not opposed to that.

In fact, it would encourage it if we looked at other passages. But when Paul here in verse 9 talks about those who desire to be rich, he's speaking about those who look upon money in itself as power and as something they want to attain to. Some of these people may be very stingy actually, very stingy.

And so they don't look at it as an opportunity of generosity at all. Paul says that that kind, now notice it says they fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.

It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith, pierced themselves with many pangs. Do you love money more than you love God? Do you hear the voice of money more than you hear the voice of God? You see the reason that the rich fall into these temptations is number one, they have the opportunity to be able to sin in new and creative ways because they can finance their sins for example.

And not only that, the love of money has so come into their heart that they don't really need God. God says I am with you in sickness and in health and money says the same thing. It says I'm going to be with you during a good economy. I'm going to be with you in a bad economy. I am your security. I'll be there when you are sick. I'll be there when you are well.

I'll be there when you want entertainment, when you want to travel. I will be with you, competes with God. And the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. You know when you talk about big money, people just lose it.

They become crazy. Have you ever noticed all the athletes, not all of them, but many of them that have earned millions and millions of dollars ending up in bankruptcy? It's because big money does things to people. They sacrifice their families. They sacrifice their ethics. They sacrifice everything because of the love of money. So the Bible warns about that craving.

Nothing wrong with money. We needed to live, but the craving to be rich is destructive. There's a third lesson, and that is that the use of our wealth is a test. It's a test brought into our lives by God to see where we should be slotted in the kingdom. Not everyone in the kingdom rules the same way. Jesus made this very clear. Just imagine, during the thousand-year kingdom, all Christians will have a part reigning somewhere, but some will have more territory. Some will have greater and more wonderful responsibilities.

Just like a chandelier, all of the bulbs give light to a room, but there are some that are brighter than others. Jesus told parables about money, several of them. In one of them, he said that there were those who were given unequal amounts of money, but at the time of reward, they received the same reward because both were faithful or unfaithful, as the case may be, whether they had much or whether they had little.

And then Jesus gave another parable in which he said this remarkable thing. He said, if you cannot be trusted with the unrighteous money — I kind of like the King James here with filthy lucre, it says. Who in the world thinks of money as filthy lucre?

Go to Wall Street, go to your bank, talk to your neighbors. People say, oh, I don't love money. No, but you date it and you enjoy it and you think about it all the time. But Jesus said this. He said, if you cannot be entrusted with unrighteous money, how are you going to be entrusted with the true riches? I don't know how the judgment seat of Jesus Christ is going to be like, because all Christians will appear there. But I can imagine, and this is kind of scary because I personally take the point of view that not everyone is going to do well at their judgment seat.

And that's why I worry so much about myself. Some Christians think, oh, you know, we're all going to just get a pat on the hand and we get into, no, no, no, no. It's very serious. It is the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. I assume that Jesus will show us our bank statements. He'll show us our checkbooks.

And on this basis, he'll say, you know, some of you are going to have greater responsibility in the kingdom and some of you a very limited responsibility, because if you can't be trusted with money, how am I going to trust you with the true riches, said Jesus. It's very sobering. Well, there's a fourth lesson, and that is that get rich quick schemes are deceitful. Avoid them. You know, I wish I had time to speak about the lottery and gambling, except to say this, it is one of the greatest deceptions that is perpetrated upon American people. On the South Side here in Chicago, there was a billboard that said, two ways to have a better life.

One way, get up early in the morning, work hard, come home late at night, work six days a week. The other way, play the lotto. Even as we are gathered here today, there are people who are using their money unwisely because of lotto fever. And then you hear the ads. And then I always am abused at gambling problem, call three to one. Right? Why aren't you as clear giving that? In fact, that's a phone number that should be given over and over again. Folks, I could explain to you why this is a bad deal, but don't go there.

But I'm not only thinking of that. I'm thinking of a man whom I happen to know who went into their savings, their retirement fund, and used it because he did due diligence online. Didn't tell his wife, bad idea. And he did due diligence online and was making an investment that he absolutely was certain was going to help them financially. Well, that's an old story, but he lost it all. The marriage held together, thankfully, because he did what everybody should do in that situation, namely confess it to his wife and figure out where to go from there.

And thank God their marriage survived. But don't fall into these get rich quick schemes, no matter how much pressure, no matter how tight the place is that you are in financially. Wish I could say more about that. I know a friend who said he's made so many bad financial decisions that he's convinced that if he were to buy a cemetery, people would quit dying, he says.

We have to hurry to number five. The devil, dirt and debt are bedfellows. They're related to one another. You know, the Bible tells us that we should owe no man anything. Now, some of us, we do go into debt. For example, we have a mortgage because the whole idea in America is that if you buy a house, it is an increasing investment. Now, that's been a challenge during the days of the mortgage crisis, but generally that's true. But you think of all of the debt that is accumulated for items that depreciate.

You know, the Bible says this, and isn't it accurate? Proverbs 22, verse 7, the borrower is the servant to the lender. And some of you who live with creditors, you know what that is like.

You become a servant to those who have lent you money. Debt is a terrible, terrible pit to fall into. And you think of all of the credit card debt that people have, something like an average of nine thousand. But that means that many people are way beyond the nine thousand because there are some people who pay off their credit cards at the end of every month. And so that takes into account the fact that there are those who are constantly, constantly going into debt.

It's a terrible, terrible pit. Now, I want to speak to you frankly about this because, you know, when Rebecca and I were first married, we thought that some debt was okay. Whatever you needed, you put on a credit card. And then later we discovered, you know, we actually have to pay this off and at an amazing rate of interest.

If you pay only the interest or make the monthly payment take years and years and years because of high interest rates. There was a time when families looked at situations very differently. And you see, what we've done is we've undercut God.

Let me explain. There was a time when families would say, you know, we need a new car. The old one is just absolutely broken down.

It's not running anymore. And we need a better vehicle for our family. So we don't have any money for it. Very little money.

Can't go out and buy one. So let's pray together and ask God to do a miracle and to give us a better car. And they would cry up to the Lord. They would pray to God and say, God, you know our need. And somebody in church would see them and say, you know, I have a car that I think you folks could use. I'd like to give it to you.

The whole family would rejoice in the fact that God answered prayer. We don't have that today. You walk in and you can for 0% interest and probably make the first payment within six months or a year.

I don't know exactly how all that works. But you don't need to pray to God because whatever you want, you can buy on credit. Now there was a time when God led his people. The way in which God leads us is through poverty and through money or lack of it.

For example, in Deuteronomy chapter 8, God said to the Israelites something very interesting. He said, you know, I led you in that wilderness and there was no food, but I provided manna and I provided clothing so that you might trust me. You see, we don't need that trust today. We have the credit card. Some of you quite frankly should do some plastic surgery at this point.

I can lend you some scissors. My friend, we are living at a time when many people are living beyond their resources and I won't say anything more about the dangers of debt except to say this, that our greatest debt actually is to God. And the coming of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem reminds us that Christ came to pay our debt. He died for us, the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God. And that's why Christmas is such a celebratory time. It's a time in which we want to bring glory to God. I'm sure that you want to. How will you bring glory to God?

Well, the Bible says that he who offers praise glorifies me. I'm holding in my hands a book entitled The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-Day Advent Devotional. I want to make sure that you have a copy before December 1st. It's written by Nancy DeMoss Walgamuth. It's more than 150 pages.

And what she does is to take the songs that surround Christmas, the song of Mary and Elizabeth and the angels and Simeon, and she puts them in their historical context, directs our thoughts to their words with fresh application to our lives. And this is one of the last days we are making this resource available to you. So would you right now connect with us? Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. This is one of the last days we're making this resource available for you. It's entitled The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-Day Advent Devotional.

And as I mentioned, for a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Order right now. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's rtwoffer.com. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Our country is trillions in debt, and the government is digging a deeper hole every year. For too many Christians, dependence on God has morphed into dependence on a plastic credit card. Why go without when it's so easy to just charge it? Why pray about a need when you can just go buy what you want? Next time on Running to Win, saying goodbye to the scourge of debt. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-15 02:58:00 / 2023-11-15 03:06:51 / 9

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